PEI

Some truckers entering P.E.I. being tested for COVID-19 at Confederation Bridge

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says testing for COVID-19 at the Confederation Bridge began on Tuesday.

'Challenging for many of these long-haul truckers to get to swabbing clinics in Charlottetown or Summerside'

Testing for long-haul truckers entering P.E.I. started Tuesday. (CBC)

P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says testing for COVID-19 at the Confederation Bridge for some truck drivers began on Tuesday.

The tests are for truck drivers who live on P.E.I.

Morrison said the decision was made in consultation with members of the trucking industry and is being done mostly to accommodate travel schedules.

"It would be challenging for many of these long-haul truckers to get to swabbing clinics in Charlottetown or Summerside and they're sometimes not in Prince Edward Island for too long," she said.

"We will call them the next day … be able to tell them if results are negative or positive."

Of course our approach to testing will continue to evolve as the situation evolves.— Dr. Heather Morrison

If someone is just dropping a load off on the Island and turning right around they won't be tested, she said.

Waiting to test

Morrison said people who arrive on P.E.I. are often not tested right away, as it may be too early to get an accurate test result.

"We would want to test them at least a week later because that is when you are more likely to have symptoms," she said.

However, she said there are times the province wants to test people who may be asymptomatic twice. She said at long-term care facilities new admissions are tested when they first arrive, then a week later to ensure accuracy.

With the province entering the first phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, Dr. Heather Morrison said it is important to continue to increase testing. (Ken Linton/CBC)

She said that is why broader testing hasn't been done until now.

"If you test people who do not have symptoms the sensitivity of the test is not nearly as high as if you have symptoms," she said.

"That means people might be tested and they think they don't have COVID but the sensitivity of the test is not very good. So they could almost have false reassurance."

Testing important as P.E.I. eases back

With the province entering the first phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, Morrison said it is important to continue to increase testing.

"Of course our approach to testing will continue to evolve as the situation evolves," she said.

She also said adhering to physical distancing guidelines remains important.

Morrison reiterated this is not the time for non-essential travel. Officials with the Emergency Measures Organization will continue enforcing border restrictions and managing the pre-travel approval process to come onto P.E.I.

Islanders with medical appointments in other provinces will be allowed to travel back and forth, Morrison said.

At the Thursday afternoon briefing, Morrison said there have been 111 new negatives tests returned to the province since Wednesday.

Testing clinics are available in both Charlottetown and Summerside for anyone else who may need to be tested for COVID-19.

P.E.I.'s chief of nursing Marion Dowling said 72 patients were seen at the Charlottetown cough and fever clinic and 28 at the Summerside location on Wednesday.

Cough and fever clinics can be accessed by calling 811 or getting a referral from a family doctor.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Davis grew up on P.E.I. and studied journalism at Holland College. He can be contacted at anthony.davis@cbc.ca

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